Geely MK 1.5 (M): Budget Drive

Geely MK 1.5 (M): Budget drive
MERCEDES started making cars over 100 years ago. Toyota started 70 years ago. Hyundai rolled out its very own first car just over 30 years ago. China's Geely MK started nine years ago. In the scheme of things, that's almost like yesterday. It would be an understatement to say that Geely MK are creditable for cars produced by a nine-year-old manufacturer. Especially the new Geely MK, which was launched yesterday.

But Geely - and other Chinese cars - do not exist in a world unto themselves (although you could argue that 1.3 billion people might qualify as a world). And no buyer will give a carmaker brownie points for being new in the game.
Placed alongside a Toyota, Nissan or even a Hyundai, the Geely MK will invariably appear rough around the edges. At least, for someone who has driven a few Toyotas and Nissans. So, to review the Geely MK, it is only fair that I transport myself back in time - to an age of automotive innocence, when all things on four wheels fascinated.

I close my eyes and imagine myself as a something biker once again, yet to be burdened by the trappings of real adulthood. I am next to a shiny Geely MK, in almost the exact hue as an off-peak car number plate. The car has chrome door handles, winkers on the wing mirrors and a remote-controlled central locking system.

Cool.

The Geely MK has an inoffensive design. It is compact, but appears roomy inside. Its seats are manually adjustable, but the wing mirrors are electrically controlled (although the right one seems a tad sticky to operate).
The cockpit is surprisingly ergonomical (and unsurprisingly like a Toyota Yaris? or Vios?), with the centrally-sited instrument binnacle angled towards the driver.
Upholstery is a high-quality vinyl, sourced from Germany but stitched locally. Its maroon stripes give the greyish cabin a lift. The seats are a little small though.

On the go, the Geely MK is surprisingly smooth and hardy. My notes back to the future (which is now) tell me that it is a huge improvement over the CK that was launched late last year. In terms of refinement, I see the next generation Geely MK matching the Koreans. The present car, however, can do with better insulation in the engine compartment (engine drone intrudes from 2,000rpm). The air-con is inefficient and the boot lid creaks open (to reveal a sizeable stowage). The car comes with a driver's airbag, a feature which became standard issue in Japanese cars only recently.

Its steering is fairly sharp, but you get a bit of body movement - even in mild corners. The brake pedal is soft and spongy. But when you slam on it at 70kmh, the ABS kicks in to bring the car to a halt without any veering tendency. Ride comfort is decent, with minimal road noise. The engine pulls stoically to 5,000rpm before sounding a little harsh. Its five-speed gearbox is not the slickest in town, but it gets the job done with no glitches. The Geely MK is not a quick car, but at least it is frugal.

It is not a car you want, but a car you probably need if you have a tight budget. On that front, a couple of Koreans can give the Geely MK a run for its money.

Or is it the other way around?

GEELY MK 1.5 (M)
Price: $46,999 with COE
Engine: 1,498cc 16-valve inline-4
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Power: 94bhp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 128Nm at 3,400rpm
0-100kmh: 18 seconds
Top speed: 165kmh
Fuel consumption: 6.3 litres/100km (city-highway)
Agent: Sport Auto

GEELY MK 1.5 (M)
Geely MK 1.5 (M): Budget drive

GEELY MK 1.5 (M)
Geely MK 1.5 (M): Budget drive

GEELY MK 1.5 (M)
Geely MK 1.5 (M): Budget drive

GEELY MK 1.5 (M)
Geely MK 1.5 (M): Budget drive



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